In a fast-paced, metropolitan city like ours, it's not wrong to say that Singaporeans are a stressed-out bunch. But laughter can go some way in relieving that, and that's what comedian Jonathan Atherton wants to do.
"When I first performed in Singapore in the early 2000's, the scene was very expat-centric. British and Australian acts for predominantly British and Australian audiences.
There was no more than five per cent local participation," recalls Atherton, 52. He then made it a personal mission to help improve the local stand-up comedy scene, and co-founded The Comedy Club Asia in October 2007.
So far, their annual stand-up comedy show, Kings & Queens of Comedy Asia, has seen a steady increase in attendance rates over the years.
When the show first started here in 2010, it sold some 1,600 tickets for its two-night gig at the Singapore Conference Hall, and that figure has increased to about 2,000 per night during its run at the Esplanade Theatre last year.
"My Singaporean partner and I focused on building local audiences, and we felt the best way to do that was to nurture local performers. Now there are over 30 Singaporeans performing at various levels, and three open mic stages locally," he says with a hint of pride.
Atherton, along with four other comedians from different parts of the world, will gather next week for The Comedy Club Asia's fourth instalment of Kings & Queen of Comedy Asia, to be held at the Esplanade Theatre.